ARTIST'S STATEMENT

Throughout her career, Susan Hockaday has used art as a tool to explore the structures and patterns of the natural world. She combines a scientific education with an instinct for design gained from her childhood in the countryside in a family of artists and architects. She has always looked at nature with designing eyes.

Early on, she planned to become a medical artist. With that in mind, she worked in Cardiovascular Surgery at the Yale Medical School, where she made drawings during open heart operations. When her family moved to Princeton in 1964, she shifted to her own artwork. Since that time, Ms Hockaday has used etching, drawing, handmade paper, constructions, photography, and photograms to examine the layers, details, and rhythms of landscape/nature.

Many of the etchings from the 70’s, especially those made after two sabbaticals in Holland, combine images of planned landscape with unruly nature. In 1979 Ms. Hockaday learned to make paper, with the intention of printing on it. Instead she followed Japanese practices to produce very thin papers, which were assembled in layers. This method provided a way to convey the layered patterns that she noticed in woods and streams.

During many summers spent with her family on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Ms. Hockaday responded to that rocky coastal landscape, using drawing, collage construction, and photography. For the last 15 years her favorite tool has been a simple 35 mm SLR camera. She has experimented with movement, water, double exposures, drawings, mirrors, and shadows to make photographs that emerge as abstract images of pattern and gesture. They speak to nature, but do not clearly portray it. She has also had an opportunity to photograph from the air, and has made a series of pictures of the coastlines around New Jersey and New York.

Recently Susan Hockaday’s work has reflected her dismay at the erosion of our natural environment by human activity. She has focused on the alarming presence of plastic trash throughout the planet. She uses photographs and photograms to examine the ways in which plastic has become embedded in nature. When plastic drifts into the environment it gradually breaks down into particles that enter the biological chain, and the two spheres become one.

At this point Ms Hockaday finds that she is ever more interested in using art as a medium to bring people together and provoke thought. Through images and installations she hopes to stimulate an awareness of our shared landscape and its peril. As she thinks about the planet, a quote from the great California naturalist, John Muir, comes to mind:

“When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.”
John Muir, Notebook, 1869

ABOUT

After graduating from Vassar College, Susan Hockaday continued her education at the Pratt Graphics Center in New York (etching), The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Princeton University(photography). She studied papermaking at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, in Maine. She has lived in Holland and worked at the Amsterdam Graphics Atelier. While living in England in 1982, and lecturing in Japan and China, she developed her interest in papermaking.

She has won fellowships from the New Jersey State Council of the the Arts, and won the W.K.Rose Fellowship from Vassar College in 1974. Ms Hockaday has exhibited widely, in more than 25 solo exhibitions. Her work is in many public and private collections, including that of Princeton University.